When we last left Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) he had just endured the dreaded meeting between his parents, Roz and Bernie (Barbra Streisand and Dustin Hoffman) and his future in laws, Jack and Dina Byrnes (Robert De Niro and Blythe Danner). It’s now many years later. Greg and Pam (Teri Polo) are happily married and the proud parents of twins. But as the kids’ birthday approaches so does a visit from Grandpa Jack. And that can only spell trouble for Greg…and laughter for us.
There are two words you rarely see attributed to the second sequel of a successful comedy: “still funny.” If you don’t believe me, check out the “Police Academy” franchise. There’s a great line in a “Simpson’s” episode where Homer scolds Bart about respecting the local law: “Why do you think I took you to all those Police Academy movies?! For fun?” Sadly, after the first, they weren’t.
“Little Fockers” finds Greg still a nurse, but now moonlighting as a representative for a new Viagra-type drug. Roz is hosting her own television show while Bernie is off in Spain, learning how to dance and battling what Roz calls “Man-o-Pause.” Jack is beginning to feel mortal and wonders if Greg has what it takes to lead the family, to be, as he puts it, “the God-Focker.” Throw in the return of Owen Wilson as Pam’s ex-beau, Kevin, and you have the makings of one funny film.
The “Focker” films are successful for two reasons. One, the great battle of one-upmanship between Stiller and De Niro. Two, the supporting cast. Some viewers were put off when Streisand and Hoffman showed up as Greg’s parents. I have no idea why. Considering they possess four Oscars between them I would think they could be in any movie they wanted to. While their roles here aren’t as large as in the previous film, their characters (and their personalities) are welcome. As another drug rep, Jessica Alba shows a fine knack for comedy. And, after a few hit and miss years (“Drillbit Taylor” anyone), it’s great to see Owen Wilson back in fine form. A brief appearance by Harvey Keitel turns the film into a “Mean Streets” reunion. But, as in the previous films, the big guns here are Stiller and DeNiro. When they’re on screen it’s like watching a boxing match. One jabs, the other parries. Back and forth they go until the fight is declared a draw. In interviews both actors show a great respect for each other and it shows in their performances. In the “circle of trust” of these films, these two are firmly ensconced. Director Paul Weitz, taking over for Jay Roach, shows the same eye for comedic timing he used to make “American Pie” a success.